There’s nothing quite as sexy as a set of perfectly manicured nails; well, perhaps that’s a stretch, but you get the drift. When you think nails, you think solid colors, sometimes nail art, and of course, French manicures get a resounding yes—it’s an inextricable part of a woman’s beauty regime. But, there’s that teeny-tiny problem of having to reapply your nail polish every two days, because of course, chipped paint is a complete eyesore. A solution to that problem appeared in the form of gel manicures. While this was a welcome change, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Gel manicures brought with them, a curing process that needed the help of UV light to help the gel set, or dry. Now, the thought of exposing one’s hands to UV light for extended periods of time (we hear it takes 10 minutes to dry) was a serious cause for concern among dermatologists, since it runs the risk of accelerating aging, or worse, leading to skin cancer.
However, according to a new study published in JAMA Dermatology, researchers who evaluated 17 different light sources (curing devices) from 16 salons, in two undisclosed geographic locations, have found that “UV nail polish drying lamps pose only a small risk to clients.” But, this study needs be taken with a pinch of salt, considering it looked at the use of only UV lights, which have become less common as some salons have switched to quicker, presumably less-risky LED lights.
And just as we were about to sigh with relief, another devil came knocking. According to dermatologist Dr Susan Taylor, some gel polishes contain the chemical butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which is considered carcinogenic, while chemicals like, methyl acrylate, more commonly found in gel polish, can cause shortness of breath and allergic contact dermatitis.
Whether the side-effects will manifest in your case, depends on the sensitivity of your skin specifically. Also, considering the procedure to remove the polish involves soaking your hands in acetone for 10-15 minutes (and then scraping off the residue), your nails tend to become thin, brittle and very dry.
With everything in mind, it is for you to decide if gel manicures are worth the trouble and money. Or else, opting for quality, long-wear nail paints seems like the obvious solution.
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